Easy day into Padstow, and then inland to stay at Woodlands Country House for my 'luxury birthday treat', owned by wonderful hosts, Hugo and Pippa Woolley. A beautiful suite complete with four poster bed! Dinner at the most incredible restaurant in Padstow (this one, by the way, was not owned by Mr Stein!). I have been completely spoilt. Enjoy it while it lasts!
Tuesday 7th September 2010
I was joined by Philippa’s nephew Daniel who recently completed his university degree and having the summer off before starting to work. It was a pleasure to have him along. We left Trevone and set off for Padstow and despite the forecast, the day was turning out to be bright and sunny. Arriving in Padstow we met up with my friends Clive and Liz Halls who were on holiday. Whilst they looked after our rucksacks, we visited Dom Boothroyd at the National Lobster Hatchery. Dom explained to us the incredible work they do in rearing young lobsters in their thousands before divers place them by hand in suitable sites along the local Cornish coast. Their work is the most likely reason for a resurgence in the lobster population in this area. I also interviewed the harbour master Rob Atkinson and the coxswain of the lifeboat, Ian Tarby. Both fascinating people. We enjoyed a free ferry ride across the Camel Estuary and walked on along the coast to the house where Liz and Clive were staying with another couple of families, for a cup of tea. Then onwards to Polzeath where Clive picked us up and drove us inland to the village of St. Minver. We were staying in a beautiful cottage owned by another friend, Ian Hughes, who had left us a key to use whilst he was away. He even left a tab behind the bar at “The Fourways Inn” just opposite for our dinner. Amazing generosity!
Wednesday 8th September 2010
After our lovely stay in St. Minver, we returned to Polzeath and enjoyed a 'surfer’s breakfast' and then continued round to Port Isaac, home of "Doc Martin". The filming of this TV series in the village has put Port Isaac even more firmly on the tourist map. One gift shop was offering a pair of Doc Martin’s socks in a tin! We had a rowdy night in The Crow’s Nest where the staff raised a collection for Alzheimer’s Society and I was able to give a potted account of my walk-so-far to the locals. A great evening!
Thursday 9th September 2010
The great weather continues. Daniel’s last day. Port Isaac to Tintagel. A few steep sections. Picnic lunch and then Daniel departed. Sad to see him go. I have got used to having walking companions over the past couple of weeks. “On my own… once again..!” Reached Tintagel but the bridge across to the island was already closed. Inland walk to my B&B.
Friday 10th September 2010
BBC radio interview at 6.45 am this morning. Walked from Tintagel to Crackington Haven. First rain in ages and very windy. Stayed in a lovely B&B in dramatic scenery surrounded by towering cliffs.
Saturday 11th September 2010
Had an inland walk of a couple of miles and back again to collect mail from the local post office. Then ups and downs in fine weather and donations along the way. Some serious steps cut into the side of the valley. Met a lady called “Carol” who guided me into Bude. Was dying for a curry but was turned away by two busy restaurants but found a third, quite by chance, tucked away up a flight of stairs off a side road! Food was good.
Sunday 12th September 2010
Again, the weather has been glorious. Walked from Bude to Morwenstow. Lots of ascent and descent. Lots of donations including one from a family who’s parents on both sides were suffering from Alzheimer’s. In the evening I negotiated my way through fields, woods, churchyards and farmyards to the Bush Inn for dinner. Met a couple in a car who were completely lost and asked me for directions. I think I sent them off in completely the wrong direction. Sorry!
Monday 13th September 2010
Overcast with rain and strong winds. Crossed the county border from Cornwall back into Devon. Down with the Cornish flag and hoisted the Devonian flag which fluttered in the breeze attached to my rucksack. Sad to say goodbye to Cornwall. What an incredibly beautiful county and coastline. Thank you for having me! At Hartland Point I finished my northerly course, beared away from the Atlantic and turned east towards the Bristol Channel.
Tuesday 14th September 2010
Strong gales, fog and torrential rain. Walked from near Hartland Point to Clovelly. What a picture postcard place. No traffic down its cobbled streets so all shop produce dragged down the hill on sleds! Not a good day… Early on I leant over to have a closer look at a hairy caterpillar and something went "ping" in my back. After a cream tea in Clovelly sheltering from the rain I made it to “The Old Police House” B&B just inland. I was in a fair amount of pain and took pain killers to help me sleep.
Wednesday 15th September 2010
Could barely move this morning and in considerable pain due to my back. Managed to get an appointment with an osteopath in Bideford called Philip Corbin and got a lift over to see him. I was in expert hands and after treating me, he assured me that whilst I would continue to be in pain for a while, the slipped disc was back in place and I could continue to walk in a couple of days… but…and it was a significant ‘but’… I was not allowed to carry Big Bertha (that’s the name I have given my enormous rucksack by the way). Enter “Luggage Transfers”. They saved me. Each morning, until my back is better, I will put all my kit into my large stuff sack and they will collect it from my digs and transfer it to my next place of accommodation. Brilliant. All I need to carry in an almost empty Big Bertha is a picnic lunch and a few essential pieces of kit. No tent, no sleeping bag, no roll mat, no cooking kit, no food, and not to mention all the other paraphernalia which I am carrying on my walk. Great news! I rested for the remainder of the day.
Thursday 16th September 2010
My back felt a little better this morning but as predicted, still very painful. I wanted to keep moving on, so rang Ian Corbin for re-assurance and permission to walk today, which I got, although a diet of ibuprofen was required. Off I hobbled with a virtually empty rucksack on my back – Big Bertha was also on a diet today. Spent a chunk of the day walking in a wooded section of the path. Got round into Westward Ho! Stayed in the most amazing room a “Penkenna House”. Its total square footage was greater than that of my old cottage! It also happened to have one of the largest and most comfortable mattresses I have ever had the pleasure of sleeping on.
Friday 17th September 2010
A lovely sunny day. Woke up in quite considerable pain though. Called Philip Corbin to compare notes and realised that I would be walking past his clinic in Bideford later that day. Once I got walking that morning, as he predicted, my back loosened up a little. At lunchtime I stepped into his treatment room and he checked me over. He assured me that the bones were fine, and that the pain was being caused by the subsequent inflammation of muscles and nerves etc… More ibuprofen required. But a huge thank you to Philip Corbin for treating me so professionally and in true charitable spirit… I spent the rest of the day walking along the Taw River into Barnstaple where I stayed the night. But my injuries were not over.
Saturday 18th September 2010
I have walked over 30 miles on hard flat ground including along the Taw and Torridge rivers and started to develop acute pain in my left leg and shin. I think this is because my walking “gait” has changed due to the pain in my back and it is causing these additional problems. Still taking plenty of ibuprofen. Arrived in Croyde and had a hazy, if delightful evening with friends in a local pub, and even got lost on my way back to the B&B.
Sunday 19th September 2010
Had the pleasure of my friend Carole’s company on a section of the path today before she headed off after a week-end of surfing. My leg by now was acutely painful and I had to strap it tightly for support to get me to my lodging in Lee Bay near Ilfracombe. I was collected from Lee Bay by my host Margaret of Shaftsboro’ Farm B&B. That evening I rang another specialist in my health-preservation armoury – Raf – who knows all about leg problems and how to treat them. What he told me was what I did not want to hear. Most significant was that I had to stop walking and rest for a while, otherwise I could create longer-term problems in my leg which, in effect, could seriously jeopardise the rest of the Walk. Not happy. Not happy at all. But Raf knows his stuff, and I am grateful to him for his wise and sound advice. I am only 45 miles away from completing the South
West Coast Path leg of this Walk. I can taste the clotted cream, scone and jam that await me in Minehead. But it will still be there in a few weeks time.
Monday 20th September 2010
I woke up hoping that my leg had made a miraculous recovery. Of course it hadn’t. Margaret very kindly drove me to Barnstaple to catch a train back to London, where my course of various back and leg treatments would continue. I will be back!